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Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
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Pamela Burdine
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Louisville, KY 40202

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Severe storms and tornadoes move across the Midwest, Southeast

A powerful storm system spawning multiple tornadoes moved through the Midwest down to the southern parts of the United States from February 28 to March 3, 2012, causing the destruction of hundreds of homes, numerous injuries, and at least 50 deaths.

Some of the areas most impacted

Alabama had at least 16 tornadoes. Five injuries were reported. As many as 40 homes were destroyed and several hundred more were damaged.  Some of the houses damaged were just recently rebuilt from damage incurred by tornadoes in April 2011.

The Community Presbyterian Church in Henryville, Indiana, suffered significant damage from one of the 16 reported tornadoes that struck Indiana over the weekend of March 2-3, 2012. Photo by Don Hampton, PDA NRT

In Illinois, at least six people died from the EF4 tornado that struck the city of Harrisburg on February 28 and destroyed 200 homes.

Indiana reported 16 tornadoes. There were 13 fatalities, and the cities of Henryville and Marysville were heavily damaged.

Kentucky reported 32 tornadoes, with 12 fatalities. Flash flooding was also reported in Bell County, Kentucky.

Ohio had nine tornadoes, with three people dead and eight injured.

Tennessee had 11 tornadoes, with three fatalities and 40 people injured. At least five counties were impacted.

A report from the Presbytery of Ohio Valley (Henryville) states “the church building in Henryville is “gutted”.  The community of 2,000 is terribly damaged.  Schools are destroyed and public buildings are gone.”   Louisville news reports describe the community of Marysville, Indiana (a town about 10 miles from Henryville with a population of approximately 2,000 people) as “gone”.

Presbytery of Ohio Valley reports that the communities and Presbyterian churches of other nearby towns also suffered damage, but the churches are working to feed those in need while assisting the workers from the Red Cross and other relief agencies.

Response

A bus in diner wreckage

This Henryville, Indiana, school bus was thrown into a diner across the street from the school just after the school children unloaded and entered the school building to seek safety. Photo by Mark Crowner.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) has been actively following reports of the tornado damage. One Great Hour of Sharing funds are on their way to several mid-councils, and we anticipate requests from others as details and needs are assessed. Members of the National Response Team (NRT) have been sent to work with several mid-councils (presbyteries) as they determine how to respond within their communities. NRT members will also be assessing ways that volunteers may be able to contribute to long-term recovery in the affected communities.

What you can do

Give.  You can help in this response through your financial gifts to DR000015 — U.S.A. Disasters and Emergencies; or give to the PDA General Account – DR000148.

Act

  • Contact the PDA Call Center by email or call (866) 732-6121 to let them know of your teams’ interest in volunteering to help with recovery and rebuilding efforts. Eden Carroll will take your information and let you know when volunteer opportunities arise.
  • Prepare Gift of the Heart Kits.  When widespread disasters occur, there is usually a need to replenish the supply to ensure a sufficient quantity for future disaster situations.  Learn more about hygiene kits, baby kits, school kits and clean up buckets.
  • Sign up to receive PDA RIN (Rapid Information Network) emails to be aware of current responses and urgent needs you can share with your congregation. 

Pray:  Our best response is prayer.  Please pray for those in the storm-stricken communities including congregations, families, and those seeking to salvage what little the storms left behind.  Also pray for strength for those offering assistance, and for those who will participate in the recovery efforts in the upcoming days and months.

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Upcoming Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Events

PHP Advisory Committee

March 30 - April 1, 2014

Presbyterian Hunger Program Advisory Committee meets March 30 - April 1, 2014, in New Orleans, LA, in conjunction with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Advisory Committee and Self-Development of People Steering Committee.

PDA Advisory Committee

March 30 - April 1, 2014

In a One Great Hour of Sharing Joint Meeting, The PDA Advisory Committee will meet in conjunction with PHP Advisory Committee and the SDOP Steering Committee March 30 – April 1 at the Omni Royal Orleans in New Orleans, Louisiana. Discussions will include the work and vision of each department, long term Presbyterian involvement, issues and generative thinking.  A mission site tour will be made, followed individual committee meetings, and PHP will visit grant partner, Latino Farmer’s Cooperative of Louisiana.

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